Philosophy and Principles

The Literacy Toolbox manages the transition from decoding to fluency and is constructed around the principles of Perceptual Learning.

Stripping out the technical jargon, our beliefs about the ‘transition to fluency’ can be reduced to three statements:

1) The only way to read fluently is to read a lot; and

2) before you can read fluently you must go through a stage of reading hesitantly; and

3) the period of reading hesitantly must be handled carefully or the anxiety of reading aloud to an adult can be damaging and significantly delay the transition to fluency.

We believe that the anxiety involved in reading aloud to an adult is by far the most significant contributor to literacy deficits.

The Literacy Toolbox is designed from the bottom up to manage the transition from decoding to fluency in a stress free manor. With stress removed, able students progress more quickly and less able students do not fall into the cycle of failure and self doubt which causes literacy deficits..

Perceptual Learning

Perceptual Learning is a proposition from psychology which states that an organism's perception in a given field improves in response to the exercise of that perception. Furthermore, the improvements are qualatative as well as quantitative. Our perception in a particular field develops distinct novel strategies as a result of experience and then new strategies beyond those as further use is made of them.

In the field of literacy it is our contention that when a student reads they are exercising a distinct field of perception and the perceptual strategies they develop as a result of that experience:

a) are critical to fluent reading; and

b) cannot be gained in any other way.

In Practical Terms

We achieve fluency using the following strategies:

We give students an enjoyable, successful and anxiety free reading/writing experience each day:

We guarantee the experience is successful by supplying copious support.

We guarantee the experience is anxiety free by supplying the support at the student's request as they are reading and without adult supervision.

We guarantee the experience is enjoyable by letting the student choose the topic they read about from a list..

Two ways to use the Toolbox

The Literacy Toolbox is designed for use in two distinct contexts. Firstly, it is designed for use with students between the ages of 6 and 14 who have failed to make the transition to fluency using some other method. This was the use for which the Toolbox was originally designed. The second use of the Toolbox is to manage the transition to fluency in early years students who are in the risky process of transitioning from decoding to fluency. In 2015 we developed a section of the Toolbox specifically for the 4 to 6 age group.